"Massachusetts businessman Bill Hanney has reached an agreement with Citizens Bank to purchase the North Shore Music Theatre property in Beverly, MA," a statement reads. "Hanney is currently putting together a new business plan and management team to reopen North Shore Music Theatre in the spring/summer of 2010."
A marquee-value musical is expected to re-launch the popular company in July. A formal announcement is expected in February.
According to nsmt.com, the theatre will feature a new musical season, concerts, restaurant service and the return of the popular annual production of A Christmas Carol.
Discussions with unions are part of the process of reviving the 1,500-seat onetime Actors' Equity operation.
"Hanney has previously purchased closed or distressed properties and successfully revived them," according to an announcement. "Those projects include Theatre By the Sea, a summer-stock house in Matunuck, RI.; Fresh Pond Cinema in Cambridge; and Falmouth Cinema Pub." The popular subscription theatre entertained audiences with concerts and musicals for 55 years. It was spoken in the same breath with such popular East Coast Equity theatres as Paper Mill Playhouse and Walnut Street Theatre.
North Shore Music Theatre began operating in 1955 and was the largest non-profit producing theatre in New England. It employed thousands of union artists over the years.
In summer 2005, the suburban Boston venue was damaged by fire and shut down for repairs, with programming moved temporarily to Boston. The theatre was refurbished by fall 2005. Barry Ivan was the most recent artistic director of North Shore Music Theatre. He succeeded Jon Kimbell, who resigned in 2007 after 25 years, assuming the title of artistic director emeritus.
By fall 2009, the property (a 26-acre site) was purchased by Citizens Bank for $3.6 million, according to Boston.com. The bank holds the $5 million foreclosed note on the theatre.
North Shore officials announced June 16, 2009, that the theatre had failed to raise the $2 million needed to launch a 2009 season. Although more than $500,000 in pledges had been made, time had run out to raise the balance.
Theatre board chairman David Fellows said in a statement, "In the last two months we have been able to make progress toward our fundraising goal, but sadly, this is not enough to fund a 2009 season and keep the theatre open . . . Without a season this year, we are unable to address the substantial debts of our creditors and restore the theatre's economic health."
The theatre's debts included large mortgages on its property and buildings and debts to vendors, the State of Massachusetts, and subscribers who paid in advance for the 2009 season. Fellows told Salem News that the theatre will have to pay off banks and that it is "very unlikely" an estimated 4,4000 subscribers will be reimbursed.
Fellows also stated, "We are grateful to our loyal supporters and urge all who care about musical theatre and arts education on the North Shore to support any effort that would preserve this cultural resource for future generations."
For more information visit www.NSMT.org.